Categories
AnneLawsonArt Birds My art work Texture

Now, here’s the nest

Last post I put the nest in the title, and made no more mention of it! So, here’s the nest.

Kate from Tall tales from Chiconia had the joy of watching a sun bird build and raise a family in her nest, hanging just outside Kate’s back door. There’s a photo of it here. I was delighted when Kate sent the nest to me.

It is a beautiful little thing, delicate, and yet so strong. There are feathers tucked into the dried grasses.

 

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But, because it hangs rather than sits on a branch, it is not the usual nest shape. That’s the basic issue, I think.

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I have had a few attempts at creating it….with pencil

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and with ink and pencil.

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And one with only oil pastels

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These were studies to learn about the shape and tones.

Then I went to Mark’s workshop in Bendigo, and thought that I would use the technique he taught me with the nest.

First step was to lay down the watercolour.

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Then to go over it with oil pastels.

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Does it work? Well, I think the basic problem is the shape of the nest. I love it, but, as it is not a classic nest shape, it is hard for the viewer to understand what it is, hard to read visually. So other parts of, such as the materials it is made of, need to be very clear. I like the texture in the oil pastel only, and it comes closest to the grasses, feathers and seeds woven into it, but still doesn’t explain it to the viewer.

I would love to know what you think. Do you think “nest” when you look at any of the studies? Does one work better for you than others?

[It may be hard to see all the versions at a large size, so this gallery may make it easier.]

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Categories
AnneLawsonArt Birds Kindness My art work Texture

A delight from Queensland

Recently Kate emailed me to ask if I wanted a nest. Well, who can resist a nest? Probably plenty of people, but not me!

The story behind the nest is that an olive backed sunbird created this nest by suspending it from the fairy lights right by Kate’s backdoor. Kate had the delightful task of keeping the nest, bird and eggs safe. You may remember her blog posts about it, where you can also see a photo. It is an amazing creation, especially to be made by such a tiny thing.

Yesterday the nest arrived, safe and sound, because Kate had packed it so well.

 

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And this is my new treasure

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Not everybody’s cup of tea, but I love it. The muted colours, its fragility, its construction (how does one little bird create such a thing, especially as only some parts look like they have been woven) and the little additions, like the feathers and paperbark (must be from a melaleuca!)

My mind is buzzing with creative ideas. Maybe even oil pastel?? In October there is an exhibition of natural history subjects, and this little sunbird nest could be just the subject for me! I will keep you posted.

So many thinks to Kate for thinking of me. She is such a generous soul, and my world is richer for knowing her.

Categories
anne4bags Birds My art work

Feathers, for sale

I thought that you might to look at these two feather drawings that I have just listed in my Etsy shop. Just click on the picture if you are interested in more details.

I also wanted to let you know that this month I am donating half of my sales to BirdLife Australia. Their current campaign is to protect wetland habitats that are facing threats such as reclamation projects and over-extraction of water. Wetlands are vital for birds such as the Great Knot that breed in Siberia and migrate to Australia, as well as many more species.

Feather drawings and paintings are a big part of my shop, and I like to give back to the birds that help support me. I hope to make this a nice, fat donation for the birds.

Ink feather (Photo and art work copyright: Anne Lawson 2014)
Ink feather (Photo and image copyright: Anne Lawson 2014)
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Original feather drawing, done in pencil (Photo and artwork copyright: Anne Lawson, 2014)
Categories
Birds How does my garden grow?

How does my garden grow?

My Fella went to WA for a week, coming back last Monday. So I had a week to myself. By Friday I realised that I was on Holiday. Now some of you must think that, as a semi-retired person, I am on permanent holiday. (A big part of me agrees)! I didn’t go anywhere, except the movies, and some days I only ventured as far as the backyard. But interestingly I didn’t go into the Playroom, the room where the computer is, as well as my painting things. I seemed to be on holiday from Etsy shop, my painting and my blog (sorry about that).

I was also on holiday from Getting Ready For Christmas. You haven’t received my Christmas card in the mail because I haven’t sent it. The tree has just been decorated. Unlike last year, there are no tasty treats. But I may get around to them…..just not today, because it is 40 degrees C!

However, I came out of slothfulness to do some gardening. The last time I wrote about the garden it looked like this

The garden bed that is in the process of ungrowing. (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson, 2013
August 2013: The garden bed that is in the process of ungrowing. (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson, 2013)

Now I can proudly unveil the same bed, which looks like this:

December 2013 (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)
December 2013 (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)

Because of a prolonged drought in Victoria — over 10 years — I couldn’t justify water for annuals. Now I have lobelias and pansies flowering, the foxgloves just budding and the  aquilegias putting forth their light foliage. The fern like leaf in the foreground is from the prostrate banksia, and the flower cone is in the bottom right corner.

Another view, because I am so happy with the way it looks. This time I took the photo over the pot plants. My garden is not big. Keeping some in pots, like the chives, is a good use of space.

(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)
(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)

The chives up close

IMG_8914The salvia and fox glove buds up close

(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)
(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)
(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)
(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)

And what is a garden bed without a rose? This one is something like Spirit of Peace.

(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)
(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)
(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)
(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)

I have also carved some space out of the former jungle to put up the birdbath. It was a Christmas present from my Mum last year. I finally have it in a spot where the birds are happy to use it and where I can keep it topped up. I have planted some impatiens, which should look good. Fingers crossed that they grow!

(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)
(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)

I can see the birdbath from my window and know that it is used a lot. Where did the birds go before?

View from the window -- sneaking a peek at the sparrows! (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)
View from the window — sneaking a peek at the sparrow! (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)

And lastly (well done if you have got this far!), the hydrangea my sister gave me. I have always wanted one. As I was not sure where it should go, it went into a pot. The photo shows how cleverly I have been able to crop the other photos to not show the mess and raggedy bits of the garden, like the hose, bricks, leaf litter and weed mat!

(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)
(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)

Unfortunately the hydrangea is struggling today. It doesn’t like 40 degrees, but then not many of us do.

I am sure you are thinking “But where are the veggies?” How astute of you. Unfortunately, they are something else growing in pots this year. Our Veggie Patch, otherwise known as the Front Yard is a fallow wasteland at the moment. Enough said about it, as today I am enjoying the colours and pleasures of the back. I might have a moan to you about it next time.

Enjoy your gardening, wherever you are. If your world is too cold to garden at the moment, I hope that my flowers have given you some extra warmth. 🙂

Categories
Birds Travels

River red gums

(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)
(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)

Along the major waterways of Australia you will see the mighty river red gums growing. They are magnificent trees, majestic, old strong. We need to take care of them not only for their own sake, but for the habitat they provide.

Many Australian birds and marsupials nest in holes in trees. These are created after branches drop off, exposing the softer pulp. It is why it is so important to keep our older trees. Even dead ones have wonderful nesting sites.

In Mildura my evening walk along the Murray River was magic. I did more stopping, listening and looking than I did walking. I saw where the kookaburras were nesting in a hollow. The galahs and lorikeets squabbled over branches and holes. I saw a pair of top knot pigeons building a nest. One of the pair, I guess the male, flew from the bushes with a twig in his mouth and presented it to the female on the branch. He repeated this half a dozen times. However, when I went back the next day there was no sign of them or the nest. Perhaps it wasn’t the perfect nesting place after all.

These gnarly old trees are so necessary. (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)
These gnarly old trees are so necessary. (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)

I looked for about 10 minutes into this tree. I could hear a distinctive bird call, and I knew it came from up here. But I couldn’t see it!

(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)
(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)
Categories
Birds Travels

More adventures with Alice, in the Grampians

The Grampians, from Mt William (photo copyright: Anne Lawson, 2013)
The Grampians, from Mt William (photo copyright: Anne Lawson, 2013)

The Fella and I are off having adventures in Alice the Caravan. (Want to know more about Alice? Have a look here.)

The Grampians are a rugged national park in Western Victoria, and are very spectacular.

 (photo copyright: Anne Lawson, 2013)
(photo copyright: Anne Lawson, 2013)

Halls Gap is the main town, and its main purpose is tourism. However, it is still a pleasant, informal town. We are staying in a caravan park 4 km south, just below the wall of the Bellfield Dam. The Lakeside Tourist Park is a great place to be. Forget the word ‘tourist’, which in my mind conjures up images of over organisation, like a theme park with caravans! This caravan park is not like that. It is a friendly, relaxed place with great amenities. I especially enjoy the individual shower and toilet. Often showers are cramped, so it was nice to have room to spread out! And delicious hot water too 🙂

It also has a dining room/kitchen complex and a TV. Not having a TV has been great, but I did appreciate watching the footy on the one here last Saturday. I just didn’t appreciate the result!

I have also loved having wild life close by. While the kangaroos only come into the camping area at night, there are dozens of them in the grassed areas around us. I saw a paddock the other side of town that must have had around one hundred in it.

I counted 40 kangaroos in this photo. It is an area next to the caravan park.  (photo copyright: Anne Lawson, 2013)
I counted 40 kangaroos in this photo. It is an area next to the caravan park. (photo copyright: Anne Lawson, 2013)

 

 (photo copyright: Anne Lawson, 2013)
(photo copyright: Anne Lawson, 2013)

 

This kangaroo is eating in someone's backyard. Can you see another one having a lie down next to the garage?  (photo copyright: Anne Lawson, 2013)
This kangaroo is eating in someone’s backyard. Can you see another one having a lie down next to the garage? (photo copyright: Anne Lawson, 2013)

There are also sulphur crested cockatoos wheeling and screeching around the sky. They fly in large flocks, the hooligans of the bush. They are noisy and can be destructive, but I find their cheekiness rather endearing.

Sulphur crested cockatoo, sitting on the awing of the caravan.  (photo copyright: Anne Lawson, 2013)
Sulphur crested cockatoo, sitting on the awing of the caravan. (photo copyright: Anne Lawson, 2013)

I have seen currawongs and magpies, little scrub wrens and finches, and some rosellas. And the wild flowers have a special place for me. But more of them soon.

I hope life is as good for you in your part of the world. 🙂

 

Categories
Birds Melbourne Odds and Ends

The Melbourne Aquarium — penguins

During the January holidays I was lucky to go with my holiday programme job to the Melbourne Aquarium. Even though I had a group of children to keep track of and keep engaged, I loved it. It was my first visit and I was blown away by the shapes and colours that exist under water. So I was determined to come back with my sketchbook.

Unfortunately my first attempt to get there was thwarted. Disappointed, but not defeated, I tried again last week. I have also been reading a book about seahorses, and I really wanted to spend time looking at them. The Aquarium is in an area of Melbourne Town that I don’t walk through very much. So getting there was a delight.

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Highlander Lane

The building itself is not very interesting.

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Taken from the other side of Flinders St, across a tram stop.

However, inside is a world of delights.

An area that draws everyone in is the penguin display. King and gentoo penguins are kept in Antarctic conditions. (Apologies for the quality of the photos. They were taken through a thick glass wall — a smeary, thick glass wall.)

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The stately king penguins
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The smaller gentoo penguins

The gentoos are very engaging, and often come up to the glass — probably because they now associate humans with food. But it is cute.

Engaging gentoos
Engaging gentoos
Off up the hill for a swim
Off up the hill for a swim
Flying through the water
Flying through the water

One of the King penguins had recently hatched a chick and another had an egg on its feet. The chick, looking very fat and happy, was being feed by the parent.

The chick with the parent. The penguin behind has an egg on his feet.
The chick with the parent. The penguin behind has an egg on his feet.
Feeding the chick
Feeding the chick

The penguins are all closely monitored, especially the chick. While I watched the keepers came in and weighed the chick. It was 3.85 kg. Then it was feed extra fish. While this was happening, the parent, naturally, was very defensive of the chick and tried to peck the keepers. The keeper solved the problem by gently holding the adult’s beak.

The chick being hand fed. Look at the gentoo penguins behind the clear fence. They want food too!
The chick being hand fed. Look at the King penguins behind the clear fence. They want food too!
Holding the parent's beak
Holding the parent’s beak

Next time I will take you to see the Syngnathidae family — seahorses, pipefish and the wondrous seadragons. But as you go there you pass by a display that shows live feeds from the research stations in Antarctica. It would be interesting to see the feeds during the cold winter months.

Live feeds from the Antarctic stations
Live feeds from the Antarctic stations
Categories
Birds Travels

Emus in the Flinders Ranges

EMUS

There are so many emus across the more arid areas we travelled through — from Menindee, out of Broken Hill, to the Flinders Ranges, including this one at the very aptly named Emu Creek, Kinchega National Park.

This photo is my favourite though. We were ambling along the Brachina Gorge track and came across this adult and chicks. They just sauntered up the road, and then up the bank. The adult, a male, waited until all the chicks had scrambled up the bank before he moved them on.

It is a male because male emus not only do most of the incubation, but then rear the chicks for the next 6 months. They will usually have a number of young to look after, and  have been known to take orphaned and abandoned chicks into their care too. Someone at the caravan park had a photo that showed one adult with 24 chicks!